Verfahren zum Schutz von Whistleblowern
According to Art. 26 sec. 1 of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons reporting breaches of Union rights Member States, including Poland, were required to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the directive by December 17, 2021. The directive referred to at the outset regulates the procedure for reporting irregularities and protecting persons reporting irregularities (whistleblowers) against retaliatory sanctions for disclosing illegal activities taking place in individual enterprises. To date, the Polish legislator has not implemented the above-mentioned directives into the national legal order. Legislative work is currently underway on the draft act on the protection of persons reporting violations of the law. The fate of the draft act can be followed on the website of the Government Legislation Center at: https://legislacja.rcl.gov.pl/projekt/12352401 Dessen ungeachtet sollten Privatunternehmer die in der Richtlinie und dem vorgeschlagenen Gesetz enthaltenen Rechtsschutzeinrichtungen für Hinweisgeber bereits kennen.
Anonymität für Whistleblower
One of the main assumptions underlying the Directive was to ensure the protection of the person reporting irregularities by creating a secure system for reporting violations and introducing measures to protect whistleblowers. In view of the above, the Directive requires the creation of an internal reporting channel and procedures to ensure security and protection of confidentiality of the identity of the reporting person and the third party mentioned in the report and preventing unauthorized personnel from accessing them. In principle, therefore, the identity of the reporting person should not be disclosed to any person who is not an authorized member of staff competent to receive and follow up reports. This also applies to any other information from which the identity of the reporting person can be directly or indirectly identified. The identity of the reporting person may exceptionally be disclosed where such disclosure is a necessary and proportionate obligation under Union or national law in the context of investigations or judicial proceedings by national authorities.
Verbot von Vergeltungsmaßnahmen
Moreover, it should be pointed out that Directive No. 2019/1937 in art. Article 19 imposes an obligation on the national legislator to prohibit any retaliatory actions against whistleblowers. According to the said provision: “(…) Member States shall take the necessary measures to prohibit all forms of retaliation against persons referred to in Art. 4, including threats of retaliatory actions and attempts to take retaliatory actions, including in particular retaliatory actions taken in the following forms.
(a) Suspendierung, unbezahlter Zwangsurlaub, Entlassung oder gleichwertige Maßnahmen;
(b) Zurückstufung oder Verweigerung der Beförderung;
(c) Übertragung von Aufgaben, Wechsel des Arbeitsortes, Kürzung der Bezüge, Änderung der Arbeitszeit;
(d) die Aussetzung der Ausbildung;
(e) eine negative Leistungsbeurteilung oder eine negative Arbeitsplatzbewertung;
(f) die Verhängung oder Anwendung einer Disziplinarmaßnahme, eines Verweises oder einer anderen Strafe, einschließlich einer Geldstrafe;
(g) Nötigung, Einschüchterung, Mobbing oder Ausgrenzung;
(h) Diskriminierung, ungünstige oder ungerechte Behandlung;
(i) failure to convert a fixed-term employment contract into an employment contract of indefinite duration where the worker could reasonably expect to be offered permanent employment;
(j) Nichtverlängerung oder vorzeitige Beendigung eines befristeten Arbeitsvertrags;
(k) Schäden, einschließlich der Schädigung des Rufs einer Person, insbesondere in den sozialen Medien, oder finanzielle Verluste, einschließlich wirtschaftlicher Verluste und Einkommensverluste;
(l) being blacklisted on the basis of an informal or formal sector or industry agreement, which may result in the person not finding employment in the sector or industry in the future;
(m) die vorzeitige Beendigung oder Kündigung eines Waren- oder Dienstleistungsvertrags;
(n) der Entzug einer Lizenz oder Genehmigung;
(o) Überweisung zur psychiatrischen oder medizinischen Untersuchung.
Strafrechtliche Sanktionen im vorgeschlagenen Gesetz zum Schutz von Whistleblowern
The draft law on the protection of persons reporting violations of the law in the shape developed so far provides for the prohibition of retaliation against whistleblowers required by the directive. At the same time, it should be pointed out that a number of planned penal sanctions are to ensure the reality of this protection. These sanctions are mainly intended to “deter” potential offenders.
Penalties in the draft act include, among others: for: – hindering the filing of a notification; – taking retaliatory action against the person who made the report or public disclosure; – breach of the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the identity of the reporting person; – lack of an internal procedure for reporting violations of the law or non-compliance of this procedure with legal requirements. The planned criminal sanctions include, first of all, a fine, restriction of liberty and even imprisonment.
To sum up, it should be stated that when designing and implementing an internal channel for receiving notifications and a procedure ensuring security and protection of confidentiality of the identity of the reporting person, a private entrepreneur should be aware of a number of restrictive requirements provided for by legal acts, as well as sanctions (including criminal sanctions) for their violation . From the point of view of legal responsibility, in order to implement appropriate internal procedures, it is recommended to use the services of a professional law firm.